Daily Archives: October 25, 2014

Long Time Gone

I just realized something: with the exception of a couple of brief hypomanic periods, I haven’t had a real, live, rip-roarin’ manic episode in a year. Seriously. It simply has not happened. Not even during the summer. And it feels like it’s been an eternity since it did.

Obviously, I have mixed feelings about it. I know that mania is NOT my friend, and that I’ve been playing much better with others since I last experienced it. But now all I get are downswings, and even though they’re not as severe as they once were, I’m not thrilled. The only advantage (if you can call it that) to having bipolar disorder is the high, before I go completely “toucan”…..when I’m happy and productive and I love people and everything is BEAUTIFUL!! And now I don’t even have that guilty pleasure.

Yeah, I know…..pass me a little cheese with that whine. Most of the time I’m content to be stable, which is a state that eluded me for much of my life until medications and therapy entered the picture. I just hate it that when I do decompensate, my mood always goes in the dumper. I’ve had three depressive episodes and a mixed episode in the past year, which still makes me a rapid cycler, but there are no upswings. What kind of bullshit is that!??

Now I understand why people stop their medications. It’s not just that they miss mania, it’s that there’s no “reward” for surviving the depression. I’m feeling marginally better today, which is probably why I’m whiny; I was too dispirited before, so my bitching and moaning are actually a good sign. And I know I should be grateful that my meds do what they’re supposed to in suppressing the highs…..I just wish they were as good at eliminating the lows.

But I have to chuckle at myself a little, too. I have researched my illness to the point where I could have written Bipolar For Dummies, but for some reason I got it into my head that my diagnosis had changed because of the repeated bouts with depression. My paperwork from the mental health clinic showed only that I was being seen for depression and anxiety, so I asked Dr. Awesomesauce if he had, in fact, changed the DX.

He tried hard not to laugh, but couldn’t help himself. For one thing, he doesn’t change anything without talking to me about it first; and for another, I had the same idea LAST fall too, although I’d arrived at that conclusion via different means, and it’s just as full of malarkey now as it was then. After all that’s happened and all my studies, you’d think I’d know that bipolar is a forever diagnosis—you don’t lose it just because you’re no longer experiencing one of the “poles”—and that mania is still a possibility, even though it’s been a long time gone.

Well, he fixed that in the computer and effectively eliminated all doubt, which was just as well because I needed something to give the Social Security office that lists all the medical problems I have. What the hell, at least the documentation matches up now. And I’m not as depressed as I was. It’s all good.





La La La Fall

Today we went into the woods for a walk so I could take more pictures and we ended up walking over 2 miles and it’s only 3:18pm so I’ve already more than passed my gial of daily step for the day. Yay!

I took some pictures which I thought I would share with you instead of babbling on today.  Enjoy!

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Sick with a Bug

Thursday afternoon my son threw up when we went to visit the allergist. Since then the whole family (all three of us) have been sick. I’ve been too headachy and nauseated to do much in the way of reading or writing. Been sleeping, watching TV, and playing jigsaws on my computer. Find the jigsaws relaxing.

Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: sick, virus

The Professional, High-Functioning Bipolar Patient

I came across this very interesting article by Laura Yeager on the "professional, high-functioning bipolar patient." The article discusses the author's experiences with her bipolar disorder and her ability to maintain normalcy in her life (career, family, mental stability). She details about a dozen questions that bipolar sufferers have struggled with: religion, the decision to bear offspring, medication, hospitalization, and relapse among other topics.

When I've gone to DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) meetings I've been one of (if not the only) highest functioning person in the room. The other people I met were either out of work on disability or between hospital stays or in the midst of a depressive episode. Don't get me wrong, bipolar disorder is a chronic illness. I've personally found that relapse is pretty common. I've been depressed three times and manic three times. I've also been hospitalized three times. I understand what it feels like to be in the midst of an episode. I understand how debilitating it is.

When I went to my first DBSA meeting last year I found the meeting to be simultaneously therapeutic and damning. I had never been to a meeting before so I didn't know what to expect. Prior to this support meeting, I hadn't thought much about my bipolar diagnosis. It had been six years since my first and only hospitalization. Yes, I took medicine nightly and I couldn't stay awake past 11pm (if I did I was groggy the next day; the meds I was on were highly sedating), but other than that I didn't think much of my disorder. All that changed in April 2013. I started to feel high. Like manic high. And I was worried. I spoke to my therapist about my concerns, but I felt like I needed to talk to people living and coping with the disorder. My therapist didn't think it was a good idea. He didn't want me associating with people he said wallowed in the dysfunction of their disorder, people who made their illness their whole life.

I went to the support group despite his concerns.

It was a small group of people. About 10-12 people of various ages and races/ethnicities. But about 75-85% of the people present were in the throes of an episode: either one had just ended or they were currently symptomatic. There was no professional clinician. So it was the blind leading the blind. There were lots of tears. I even cried myself. I shared my story. A story I had not discussed with anyone other than my therapist. I heard other people's stories. I felt understood.

But the next day I wound up in the hospital for 10 days. The support group was a trigger. It was very emotional and draining.

It is hard to be around lower functioning bipolar people. I've only been to two DBSA meetings. The second meeting was better than the first. But I still was one of the highest functioning people present. Maybe people who have a good handle on their disorder don't need a support group?

You know what else I've noticed? I haven't seen manic people in any of my three hospitalizations or at the support groups. I did meet one in IOP (Intensive Outpatient Therapy) this year. My thoughts on mania is that a manic person probably doesn't consider themselves sick. They feel on top of the world. They are bursting with productivity and energy and creativity. Why change that? Medicine would lessen or deaden these feelings.

In this instance, I'm kind of an oddity. I've never been hospitalized for depression; I only go to the hospital when I'm manic. For me, the mania is a lot more destructive than the depression. I managed to go to work everyday last year while depressed. But when the mania started, I needed to admit myself immediately. The mania gets out of control.

But to bring it all back to the start of this post, I would love to meet large numbers of highly-functioning bipolar people. I know they exist. Just look at all of the famous artists, poets, writers, and actors who have used their bipolar disorder and the ensuing creativity to their advantage.

Although I Have Posted This Before……

I ran across a picture that I know I have posted before, but it seems to sum up how I am feeling (or not) today. It is not directed at people in general, but rather, myself in my odd non-mood state. There has to be a name for that…..Filed under: lack of emotion, weridness Tagged: […]

No Waves On The Ocean Today

    Upon being awakened by my very sweet and well meaning cat this morning far earlier than I would have preferred, I did my normal rounds of turning on lights, opening blinds and making coffee (can’t wake up without it, the light thing was my psychiatrist’s idea to clear the Seroquel fog I experience […]

The Anxiety of, well, anxiety

I was relatively ok.
Until beckoned to the shop on the premise of helping Kenny with something. Nothing was said about me being needed by The King. (make not that is said with my best dose of snarkasm.)
I get there after spending a few hours at home in the morning watching tv shows.
Lots is full. Kenny is there as well.
Lovely. Instant panic.

All Kenny wanted was the desktop wallpaper changed. REALLY? If you’re that dumb, you’re too stupid to own a computer. LEARN. Oh, wait, neither of them want to listen to me when I try to teach them to do these little things. Nooo, let’s bug Niki because she has nothing else to do and loves us so much.
THEN R put me on the spot and told me to look for an upper buffer board. While the antsy customer is standing right there looking over my shoulder. “I found it for forty bucks last week.” says R.
“Did you bookmark it?”
“What site?”
“I don’t know.”
So I spend 45 mins, ten pages, five search engines, all the while this customer hovers and makes me so nervous I can’t think straight…And while I find several of these parts, the price is wrong, or it’s in China and that will take too long. The guy lurks and buzzes nearby like a helicopter. My anxiety creeps into the stratosphere. I finally walk away. I was there out of the goodness of my own heart (HA HA) and he puts me on the spot knowing I can’t do things quickly or competently when I have an audience.
An hour later, after the chaos of his friends and the lurker have gone…He pulls up the part he’d found last week. It was number three on page one of Google. And I missed it.
He thinks I am lazy and slacking off.
I admit, I am dropping the all a lot lately as I am clearly off my game and admittedly so.
But I can’t help but think I missed it because I was too busy trying to recall how to breathe under close scrutiny by some random dude, too busy trying not to make typos, to remember the part number, to get it done quickly…
I fucked up.

I didn’t appreciate being thrown under that particular bus, when I’ve made myself abundantly clear I don’t work well, at all, under pressure or with an audience, even of one. It was dirty pool. There was no reason for me to be there other than doing some inane thing for Kenny. To be put on the spot, in a known anxiety inducing position, then castigated for it…
Makes me remember why I’ve never been able to work consistently. The world will adapt if you need to use a can, crutches, walker, wheel chair…
But if you have mental issues with triggers that might require a little accommodation…You’re out of luck. And no, I am not saying a panic attack trumps not being able to walk. But if mental disorders are recognized as disabilities, then we should be afforded certain allowances so we can do something in spite of our disorders.
The work force, family, friends-none of them consider this. It’s laughable to them.
Which makes you feel shitty, guilty, self conscious and worsens the whole disorder, turning it into an even worse disorder.
Or in my case, a plethora of disorders.

I went in feeling good.
Until I was disrespected, thrown under a bus, and forced into a corner that brought one of my disorders boiling over the top.
If someone is afraid of heights, you don’t force them to go up a ladder and snicker at their terror. You don’t toss a spider on an arachnaphobe and wonder why they’re freaking out.

So why is it acceptable to exploit someone with panic disorder who has explained their hard limits (yes, I’m reading Fifty Shades Darker, without shame, and it’s a good term that shouldn’t exclusively apply to kink.)

As I have reiterated so many times, only to be labeled anti social, pessimistic, paranoid, yet proven right every time…
I am fairly fine…until other people are involved.
Are my mental illnesses my problem rather than theirs? Sure.
But most wouldn’t dare accuse someone in a wheelchair of being lazy yet it’s fine to take someone with panic attacks and place them repeatedly in a triggering situation then have the nerve to point out they failed.

The more people I meet…the more I like my cats. And the more I really want my own Unabomber shack, provided it has wifi. I may not do well with people, but I have got to be able to get my American Horror Story and Supernatural on.

Fiction is a place to get lost for forty minutes and not think about all my failings.

Killer clowns, demonic possession…child’s play.

Going out my front door…TERRIFYING. Because that’s real.